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PUBLISHED: 15:01 28 January 2009 | UPDATED: 17:11 16 August 2010

FALL GUY: Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler.

FALL GUY: Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler.

RANDY The Ram Robinson (Mickey Rourke) is a washed-up professional wrestler eking out a lonely hand-to-mouth existence working shifts at a supermarket and performing for small crowds of diehard fans at weekends. A self-described old broken-down piece

RANDY 'The Ram' Robinson (Mickey Rourke) is a washed-up professional wrestler eking out a lonely hand-to-mouth existence working shifts at a supermarket and performing for small crowds of diehard fans at weekends.

A self-described "old broken-down piece of meat" Randy's life is in worse shape than his leathery, battle-scarred body. He spends what little spare cash he has in a seedy strip joint shooting longing looks at Cassidy (Marisa Tomei), a struggling stripper who is also fighting a losing battle with Father

Time.

The parallels between the plot and Rourke's life are all too apparent. Like Randy, the actor has fallen on hard times since his 1980s heyday and thanks to an ill-advised dalliance with boxing his body is just as smashed up.

At times in the film it feels as if he is barely acting at all. Much of the dialogue borders on the inane but on passing through Rourke's battered and squashed lips the words take on a powerful poignancy. Tomei is similarly on the money and, although likely to be overshadowed by the career-reviving performance of her co-star, barely puts a six-inch-heeled foot wrong.

Propelled by the courageous performances of its two leads, The Wrestler is a frank, emotionally raw tale of loss and redemption that hits harder than a body slam.

The Wrestler is out in cinemas now.

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